- Rick TrainorPrincipal of King's College London
- Ed ByrneFuture Prinicpal of King's College London
- Robert LechlerVP Health
- Karen O’BrianVP Education
- Brent DempsterDirector of HR
- Ian CreaghHead of Administration
- Chris MottersheadVP Research and Innovation
Stop KCL Health School redundancies!
Supporting this petition will demonstrate opposition to the 120 planned redundancies at KCL Health Schools, and help keep in place the people who are both improving medical understanding and ensuring a future generation of high-quality doctors and scientists - the academic staff. See below for more information, and visit www.kclhealthsos.org.uk.
This petition is open to everyone who opposes the planned redundancies at KCL health schools - members of the public, other students, academics, etc.
King's College London has announced plans to cut up to 120 academic jobs in the Health Schools, affecting the Schools of Biomedical Science, Medicine, and the Institute of Psychiatry. These cuts are an attempt to compensate for financial deficits due to reductions in the UK public funding for "capital projects" - new buildings and infrastructure - at universities.
The academics at King's use innovative science to tackle some of the biggest medical challenges, and produce life-changing research in areas such as Alzheimer's prevention. In their role providing high-quality teaching and support to those studying to be doctors and scientists, the academics at King's are ensuring a bright future for medical care and future breakthroughs.
Health School students have grave concerns over the long-term impact these cuts will have. Other options aside from redundancy have not been transparently explored, and prior to the decision there has been no consultation with staff or students on how standards of research and education will be maintained.
We are calling for a number of steps to be taken before redundancies are considered as an option:
1. Extend the consultation period from 45 to 90 days, and have meaningful two-way consultations open to staff, students and unions.
2. Exhaustively explore and outline alternatives to redundancies.
3. Comprehensively assess the detrimental impacts of redundancies on teaching and research.
4. Issue a response to all staff, students and unions in the Health Schools within 5 working days of receipt of this petition.
If you are a student at the Health Schools please share your own experiences and concerns about the redundancies in "reasons for signing".
- Principal of King's College London
- Future Prinicpal of King's College London
- VP Health
- VP Education
- Director of HR
- Head of Administration
- VP Research and Innovation
We are deeply concerned about the conduct, rationale and viability of the proposals to restructure the Health Schools at King’s College London as formally disclosed on May 13th 2014. We fundamentally oppose the central justification for this restructure, namely, that the obtaining of finance for future capital projects should be secured by making 120 academic staff redundant across the Health Schools. We strongly believe that the central ethos of the College should be the preservation of the workforce that continues to maintain and enhance its world-leading reputation for teaching and research in the fields of Biomedical Science, Medicine and Psychiatry.
The importance of the Health Schools at King’s College London
The central justification for this restructure is to maintain and improve the position of the College as one of the world’s leading institutions. To date, King’s leading reputation has been achieved by growing research volumes in key areas, improving research quality and offering quality teaching to attract the best students. The Health Schools has been central in generating this high-impact research and in the provision of high quality teaching.
The breadth and quality of research at the Health Schools will be markedly reduced by the restructure, undermining one of the central pillars of King’s reputation. The dedicated academics across the Health Schools aim to address some of the biggest medical challenges. These researchers are tackling such problems with innovative science, underpinned by excellent team work across the basic and translational fields. Society requires more resources to be invested in these areas, but the proposed restructure overwhelmingly neglects this pressing need.
The loss of academic staff will have a severe impact on the Medical School, which has a responsibility to ensure that the next generation of doctors are trained to the highest possible standards. It should also be emphasised that the KCL medical school ranks bottom in the country for student satisfaction and therefore reducing the number of staff in this area will exacerbate this already dire situation.
The Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) is one of KCL’s schools currently in the process of applying for the Athena Swan silver award, an important status demonstrating the commitment of the Institute to advancing the representation of women at all levels, particularly in more senior academic positions and on influential committees. Athena Swan membership, among many other organisational and cultural benefits, also encompasses the provision of an attractive working environment for prospective staff and the promotion of inclusive working practices to increase the retention of valued staff. Importantly, this award will soon become a prerequisite for Biomedical Research Centres wishing to obtain funding from the National Institute for Health Research, a major funding source across the IoP. These proposals have the potential to undermine central elements of Athena Swan membership, if the proposed restructure results in a disproportionate number of female staff being removed, risking the College’s reputation on the important issue of female representation, as well as endangering its eligibility to achieve future funding.
These proposals indicate that the College does not value the contribution of its staff in these important areas for society. Staff morale will be adversely affected, creating a culture of uncertainty and dissatisfaction among the very people whose endeavours enable King’s to remain competitive. In addition, the reduction in staff number will likely lead to redistribution of a substantial teaching load among already exceptionally busy academics, increasing work-related stress and compromising the ability to focus on the high quality research. Together, such a drastic and sudden decision has great potential to reduce the attractiveness of the IoP for both current and prospective world-leading academic staff.
Impact upon students, present and future
The decision to remove a substantial number of academic staff will result in negative consequences for both current and prospective students taught in the Health Schools. Teaching quality will likely be weakened as class sizes become larger and the pool of experts from which to teach diverse and cutting-edge topics is reduced, markedly restricting the range of courses and modules made available to students.
PhD students, in particular, face a major disadvantage if a supervisor is made redundant. The loss of supervisory guidance and the prospect of having to change large aspects of their projects are completely unreasonable and one of the most alarming aspects of the restructure, particularly as the decision to embark on a PhD is hugely influenced by the choice of supervisor. Further to this, the Health Schools currently offer BSc and MSc students the unique opportunity to undertake research projects in the groups headed by talented academics; removal of a significant number of these lead researchers will mean that the scope of such opportunities are compromised.
Small-group learning in the form of tutorials and one-on-one support from academics are essential components of the engaging educational experience currently provided by the Health Schools. These components will be undermined by the decision to remove the very people instrumental to facilitating this learning experience.
It must be emphasised it is the range of leading researchers currently operating across these Institutes that makes King’s College London an extremely attractive place to study for students interested in these areas. Removing these very people will damage this reputation.
Improved transparency and engagement
Whilst we appreciate the current financial climate that all universities in the UK are vulnerable to, we deem the manner in which these proposals have been implemented to be entirely unsatisfactory. From the outset, there has been a woeful lack of engagement in this process; prior to the announcement on May 13th, neither students nor staff were invited to engage in constructive dialogue in how best to address the financial challenges faced by the College. There is no evidence that other solutions have been exhaustively explored and as such, the decision to adopt the drastic action of wholesale staff redundancies is both premature and unjustified.
The lack of transparency in these proposals has resulted in a climate of confusion, uncertainty and anxiety for students and staff in the Health Schools. The short-time frame imposed by the proposed restructure lacks compassion for staff welfare, as the people affected will be forced into making rapid and unexpected life changes by August 8th, compromising careers and subjecting families to significant disruption. The decision to announce these proposals during the exam period is also highly questionable, making it extremely difficult for students to actively engage in opposition to these proposals.
What we demand to happen next
The restructure will irrevocably damage the world-class reputation of the Health Schools, rendering these renowned institutes less attractive to study, work and fund research. We request that these proposals are revised in their entirety. In particular, we request that the period of meaningful consultation is extended from 45 to 90 days, to enable constructive dialogue with students, staff and the Unions. Such consultations must be open to all and aim to exhaustively explore alternatives to redundancies as well as comprehensively assess the detrimental impacts of the restructure on teaching and research. Together, we can work towards implementation of innovative ways of ensuring financial sustainability whilst keeping in place the very people that help shape the ideals and image of King’s College London - its academic staff.
By listening to and then addressing the concerns describe above, a positive message is sent to universities across the world: King’s College London is committed to education and research by keeping in place the mentors, inspirations and guardians of our next generation of graduates. In doing so, our College can continue to lead in the areas of Biomedical Science, Medicine and Psychiatry.
Lastly, we request that that a response to these requests is issued to all affected students, staff and unions in the Health Schools within 5 working days of receipt of this petition.
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